Archive for the ‘congregational singing’ Category

Revive Us Again (FREE) piano arrangement

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

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Downloadable Link Below

I was going to share a free sampling of left hand improvising ideas for Revive Us Again but I wound up writing a full verse and chorus of this challenging hymn.  It’s not a hard hymn to play but difficult to dress up for congregational singing.

The first line of the hymn is basically the same chord!  Most church pianists realize that they have to adhere to the chord structure in the hymnal when playing for congregational singing IF their congregation sings parts…to prevent chord clashes.  I can’t help but add chord substitutions on this hymn!  Our congregation doesn’t sing parts so I can have fun!  🙂

I’m sharing several improvising ideas for Revive Us Again (congregational style).  I tried to liven up the 1st line of music by creating broken chord tones and alternating bass notes within the same chord. A broken chord tone pattern already exists in the hymnal version but offered a little different one and added a little more variety than the hymnal version.

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Congregational Collection #1 UPDATE

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

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Just wanted to explain the lack of activity on my site…

I’m working on the final editing for my first set of ten congregationals (late intermediate to early advanced level).

I’m editing the fifth one this evening.  Keep in mind…I already have the first ten entered in Finale but re-hashing them to be as user friendly as possible!

Looking forward to publishing this first set!  I won’t give a deadline date but pushing myself to finish this project as soon as possible.

I will list the first five that I’ve edited:

All Hail the Power (with modulation!)

Blessed Assurance

I Love to Tell the Story

Praise Him! Praise Him!

Sweet By and By

 

Saved, Saved! Free Congregational Accompaniment Excerpt

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

I’m trying to decide whether or not to  periodically stray from the melody in the congregational accompaniments I’m working on for publication.   I can’t help myself!  It’s more fun to stray from the melody as in the following free congregational accompaniment (excerpt) of Saved, Saved!

This is more of how I would play for congregational singing for Saved, Saved.  (The written music below is the same as the recording)  🙂

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Click here to download your free copy of “Saved, Saved!” congregational accompaniment verse excerpt!

 

Awkard Hymns for Pianist: Saved, Saved!

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

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In my opinion, “Saved, Saved!” is one of the most awkward hymns to play for the church pianist.

It pays to have large hands for this song! Lots of octave spreads!  But…there IS an art to playing repetitive octaves in a relaxed touch…making it easier on the hand.  (I learned this art by playing classical music with lots of octave action!)

Classical music helps to develop SO many technical moves which can aid the church pianist in hymn playing. (another post!)

To be honest…I  leave out a lot of melody on this particular hymn when accompanying the congregation…freeing up the hand  to provide more of a  supportive accompaniment and to prevent awkward hand movements.

I didn’t stray too far from the melody in this version to prevent church pianists from getting disoriented. (Hee hee) Want a challenge? I’ll have to share the FUN version another time.

I will share a couple of tips via video soon for the following free pdf of “Saved, Saved!” (congregational accompaniment: verse excerpt)

Click here to download “Saved, Saved!” congregational accompaniment excerpt

Who wants the FUN version sampler?  (VERY advanced)

 

Free Piano Arrangement: At Calvary

Monday, June 30th, 2014

 

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I just created this one page piano arrangement of “At Calvary” this past week for one of my hymn playing students.  I’m teaching her to branch out from the middle of the keyboard when improvising hymns for prelude or congregational style.

She is accustomed to playing octaves with her left hand and now we’re trying to condition her right hand to play an octave higher with some fullness (up to 3 notes) and will gradually work into more right hand octaves.

Editor notes for the free piano arrangement of At Calvary:

Measure #5… Right hand plays octave higher for brief moment before working back to middle of keyboard in measure #7. (Notice the gradual transition)

Measure #8… double duty octaves on the last 3 beats.

Measure #15…Octave workout!

Measure #16…Just had to give her at least one 4 note chord 🙂

Click here to download Free Piano Arrangement: At Calvary

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Experienced Church Pianist vs. Inexperienced Leader

Friday, April 4th, 2014

If you have been a church pianist for very long or played in different churches as church pianist…then you may have run across this scenario…”playing for an inexperienced leader”.

The intention of this article is not meant to minimize the willingness and faithfulness of the inexperienced leader but rather to give constructive pointers to church pianists on how to deal with such a situation.

My dad, who was my first leader to follow,  emphasized to me the importance of the pianist following the leader.  I’m thankful for his teaching and preparing me for my role as church pianist.  He was the best teacher!

Over time, through experience…I have learned there are exceptions to rules 🙂

I have had to play for at least several different leaders in various situations who  just didn’t know “how” to lead and were doing the best they could.  Not all of them were non-musical people either.  I’ve had the joy of helping some of those leaders along…ONLY because of having a trusting relationship with them; giving me the liberty to do so.

I’ve found it necessary to “lead” as a pianist in some cases IF it was the only way to keep everyone singing together at the same tempo.

On occasion, when a lay person in our church has had to  substitute  for our regular leader…he will ask me before the service… to help him during congregational singing by keeping things moving since he’s not comfortable with leading.

The following video (taken from the 2013 Wild’s Music Conference) contains more discussion about this topic of “The Experienced Church Pianist vs. The Inexperienced Leader.”

My favorite quotes from the video:

“Part of our role is… we’re support, we’re ministry, we’re behind-the-scenes…serving and helping someone else try to do their job effectively…part of the philosophy of being a good church pianist.”  

 ~   ~   Faye Lopez   ~   ~

“You can infuse the service with energy and vitality in the singing…from the keyboard.” 

~   ~   Duane Ream   ~   ~

Enjoy the following brief… yet informative video on:

“The Experienced Church Pianist vs. The Inexperienced Leader”

Training Others to be a Church Pianist…

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

 

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I know other church pianists would agree that it’s so important to be training other pianists in the church to become church pianists or simply to fill in while other pianists are out of town.

At our church, we have  a couple college male students who commute to our church..one of which helps us out on the piano, among many other areas.  There are actually a total of three pianists available:  Sunshine, Hunter (college student) and myself. We rotate on a monthly basis to allow each one of us ample opportunity to serve.

I’m usually out of town at least 6 times during the school year calendar. To provide extra experience for Hunter, I’m having him play second piano along with me when I accompany instrumental specials for offertory. This opportunity allows him to learn the art of accompanying with an “on hands” approach.  (A lot of “give and take” in rhythm occurs when accompanying someone to sing or play their instrument.)

Hunter also plays second piano for congregational singing on Sunday nights and main piano on Wednesday nights giving him a chance to play introductions on his own. He has also used the congregational notebook I’m creating (which was destroyed in our church flood)..another story. He says the congregational notebook was a great help to him.

I can’t wait to start creating the congregational notebook again! I do have some of the songs in the computer…but most were not in the computer due to me accidentally deleting the original files on my computer about a year ago…(which was also a about a year’s worth of music…ugh)

Hunter has progressed by leaps and bounds!  I’m so excited to see how the Lord is preparing him for future ministries.  I’m also honored that the Lord has allowed me to be a part of his training.  Unfortunately, we only have him one more year since he’ll be graduating.

It seems God has allowed our church to be a training post for young male college students training in the area of music ministry and children’s ministries over the past (at least six years).  We’ve been SO blessed to be a part of this important training process.

 

 

Just published! It is Well (choir with congregation) arrangement

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

I am VERY excited about this arrangement!  This particular arrangement has been in the making since December but took plenty of time to refine it before sharing the finished product.

It is Well takes on a whole new meaning to those who have heard the story behind the writing of this hymn.

Click on the following link to read about the heart-rending events that led to the writing of “It is Well”.  Only by God’s grace…this song was born.

It is Well (the story behind the song)

It is Well
Easy SATB choir with congregation arrangement. 8 pgs. *Price covers multiple copies

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Price: $8.00

 

Wilds Music Conference: Hymnplaying Master Critique Class

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

I wasn’t brave enough to play the first day of Hymn playing Critique Class but…thanks to Mike Haynes, a sophomore in high school, who played his arrangement of “Count Your Blessings” for critique…providing a platform of learning for all of us!

I thought Faye Lopez and Duane Ream gave some excellent suggestions to Mike.

Enjoy the video below.  (I apologize for my amateur recording but felt the content worthy of sharing regardless of the quality).

 

Chord Substitution Application for the I (Major) Chord

Friday, December 27th, 2013

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Answers from previous quiz questions for Chord Substitutions:

Minor chords for IV are  ii and vi

Minor chords for V are  iii and vii

Key of C Major:  F chord is the IV chord….so…d minor is the ii chord and a minor is the vi chord.  The V chord is G….so….e minor is the iii chord and b minor is the vii chord.

Review from last lesson:  A Major chord lasting two or more beats can be substituted with a minor chord. Go up or down two chords from the Major chord to find its minor chord substitutions.

For example:  The  C Major chord can be substituted with an e minor or a minor chord.  (The melody note dictates which substitution will sound right).

This is only the beginning…there are SO many chord substitutions!  I’m just covering the basic choices.

New Lesson

Warning label to the church pianist:  Chord substitutions cannot be used for congregational singing IF the congregation is singing parts from hymnal.

Chord substitutions can be used for solo instrumentals or when accompanying vocalists or instrumentalists singing or playing the melody.

Reason for selective use:  chord substitutions do not support the written voice parts in a hymnal.

Our church has a small congregation that mainly sings melody with occasional tenor….giving me more freedom in congregational accompaniment.  Adding chord substitutions just brings what would be a plain hymn…to life!

If you’re a church pianist wanting a warmer sound to your playing…chord substitutions are the answer!  I use a lot of chord substitutions during invitation..creating a more reflective mood.  Our pastor likes background music during the entire invitation…allowing me more freedom to alter the melody and chords.

The following chord substitutions would be better understood if the church pianist had a basic understanding of being able to analyze chords within a hymn…hence….another lesson in the works 🙂

Until then…enjoy learning a couple chord substitutions for the following hymns.  

Layout explanation:  Three different hymn examples; each hymn is represented by an original line from the hymnal followed by an improvised version of that line. The I (CEG) chords are labeled as well as the substituted chord numbers. Each example is in C Major.  *Measures marked with a red square require future post to explain.

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*Click on the following pages to download:

Page one: Chord Substitution Application

Page two: Chord Substitution Application

 

 

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